Thursday, November 26, 2020

No more extradimensional combat here - Behold: the main website!

Good afterthen to you,


For anyone who's been holding out here for updates, sorry for the exceptionally long radio silence. I'm not dead, simply moved to !

It's where you'll find everything that's I've been up to, with several posts a month on the regular.

Hope to see you there!

All the best,


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Lost to the cruel winds, Kell must find his way through this dark night - oh, yeah, its an update.

Greetings, you! I'm about to update you on current projects, and also complain. Prepare yourself!
*Dismal coffee sipping noises*
I've been working on with Bloodkeep (at editing now) and the rough draft for Substation 7 (Title to change most likely) but that said I've had something else on my mind as of late.
So as a bit of backstory, I've been writing nearly ten years. That may come as a shock to some of you as I've only been on the scene for the past four or so, but there you are. I've bled a great deal upon the page, and the bleeding part I'm quite over, I can write without difficulty, but it just seems like I'm not seeing the kind of results I want. I need to find a way to sell my work, or at least get supported for it. Any ideas?
To give you a rare peek into my secret basement: My typical month of ebook revenue is no where near sufficient to pay for my family (getting one sale is a highlight in my day, LOL), and while my line of real-life work is perfectly good, the various surprise expenses of family life have left me in a state of financial insecurity. I can't pay for Bloodkeep's cover without risking missing actual bills, so that's definitely out of the picture. I have no effective sales funnel as of yet to channel prospective readers into, cannot afford to run any ads, and really I'm just worried that I'll be continuously marginalized to a point where I'll just have to give up the dream of doing this full time and go back to giving away all my writing for free.
You're a smart sort, what do you think I should do? I'm very consistent in my output, so the creation of the content isn't a problem, but when it comes to "moving" the products themselves into the hands of readers its a real pain in my side.
Bleh, but on the other hand, I probably shouldn't complain. After all I've gotten so many projects done over the past year that I shouldn't really slap myself too hard. I just have to try more things, and push forward with what I already know. I'll find a way.
*phew* Right-o, then! Rant finished.
Here's what's going on, get excited:
-Bloodkeep: ~99k words (yes, quite a lot!) and in editing now. You'll see vampires, werewolves, both of those parties getting murdered in massive numbers, and even a surprise appearance by me! Yes, I'll be a character in this one, for only one chapter, but still. It's all quite necessary to build up the "Higher Universe" of The Inkrealm, so I hope you understand why this one doesn't quite pertain to the usual rising and falling of action expected in most high-quality novels that we are so accustomed to in our modern society.
-Substation 7: ~17k words. It's going smoothly, the first half of the book looks like an easy write (I'm shooting for much lower than my fantasy, about 40-50k words for this one) but I just need to decide what horrible secrets I'll reveal in what order. Thriller is a totally new genre to me, but I'm very much enjoying flexing my huge medialing muscles in this brand new way.
-Nocturna League 6: ~4k words. The most recent start. I should have lots of time to finish this up, so expect to see this finished much earlier than you'd think. It's pretty fun so far. I haven't visited these characters in over a year, so I'm really excited to lick up Colette's tears again and ensure that they're salty enough for The Captain.
-Halloween Short Story: ~5k words. Another fast mover. I realized I haven't really talked much about other holidays in Aerna other than Kingsday so I felt like it would be fun and spooky to do another story with Chaos' minionry. Coming up with new minions is always a great joy, and the segments can practically write themselves.

Project considerations done, let me tell you about some musings over the horizon.
-I'm considering starting a patreon. I've done a fair amount of research into the platform, and from my analysis it seems as though that I produce more than enough content to make it worthwhile for readers. I won't change up my strategy all that much. I'll still publish mostly on amazon and have lots of interaction on my facebook group, but chiefly this will be a good way for readers to "subscribe" to my writing. For a pittance of a monthly fee, I could deliver my draft-material to my excellent readers every week! I'm certain other benefits, like audio editions, ebook editions, and physical copies of the novels would also be manageable without much fuss, especially if it would result in a small net gain for me every month. I'm still weighing the pros and cons, so if you have any input I'd love to hear it!
-I'll be revamping the shop in a few months! Sometime, most likely early spring, you could own your very own minion mug! Yes! Ever wanted Cooking Minion's smug-ass grin on a mug? Ever wanted to low-key promote my writing without having to embarrass yourself in front of your friends? Well very soon you'll have all that and more! It's all still very much in its fledgling phases, so don't expect much news about it for the coming weeks (months), but do expect news about it eventually.
-Do you like spending time with people far away? I do! The Kell Inkston Group is taking off with fun polls, book lore discussion, and general friendly nonsense. Perhaps you'd like to join? If you read this far you'd probably like to join. Here, click this and join.

I'll be sure to write more often. Sorry that you barely hear from me these days. I'm just super busy.
All the best,

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Read Woodcastle for free!

Get ready for this one, folks, it’s going to be my most ambitious yet.
As you may know, Woodcastle (Kingdom through the Swamp’s Reboot) is going along smoothly with new chapters, sharpened characters, and tons more story description, and is due a release on April 2nd.
I’ve been meticulous in my construction of chapters, prose, and ad copy leading up to its release, but I’m missing that first wave of readership and review that’s so vital for so many successful books.
That’s where you come in!
I’m looking for people to read Woodcastle for free, and shoot back their thoughts and impressions along with a quick review on its upcoming amazon page. You’ll get to enjoy Woodcastle before anyone else, and have a direct hand in the finished product.
Here’s how it’ll work:
Upon recipient of the book in the file type of your choice (.pdf, .mobi, .epub), you’ll read it, give me your feedback through email (optional), and then leave a review on on April 2nd, because a book launching on April fools day might not be the best idea.

That’s it!
You’ll get to read Woodcastle before your poor unfortunate friends for free, and the book will receive helpful social proof that will bless it for years to come!
So if you’re interested in this endeavor, just email me with your desired file type, and I’ll shoot it your way asap!
Contact me at and get your copy!
Best regards,
Kell Inkston
–   : :   –

Sunday, January 21, 2018

I am still alive / release news on the horizon!

I understand I haven't written you in weeks, and for that I apologize. The holidays, projects, and a few interesting nails have hit my side as of late, and it was all I could do to cut my way out of the work I already had. That said, this will be fairly long, but it will also be sweet.
We'll start down the list step by step. If there's a tagline that you're not interested in, just skip to the next:

-Woodcastle (Kingdom through the Swamp's reboot) is getting a fancy cover!
Don't believe me? Check out the W.I.P. right now!
Isn't that wonderful? The artist has been doing a fantastic job, and will be a good-looking herald to the story. That said, on top of this, you can expect an eventual "rebranding" for all of my main series; this is just the first of the transformations!

-Dragon Scythe Online will continue, though slowly for now
For those of you reading along with my writing in Dragon Scythe Online, expect it to continue at full speed soon enough. I can't give an exact time estimate due to outside-scribery influences attempting to slow my interaction with this plane of existence, but do know that the story will go on. The majority of my writing time right now is in making sure Woodcastle is absolutely fantastic and Bonecastle is as traumatic as it gets. Half joking. That said, I'm not sure when you'll see DSO at full speed again, just take heart that you'll be seeing more soon enough.

-Official character art is being put together for the Courts Divided Universe (Dimension #13, by O.E.L. standards)
I'm getting up with artists of considerable skill to bring more life to the universe, in order to help cover illustrations and get people's imaginations running ahead. Here's a quick W.I.P. of Royal Knight Order, for those of you wondering what kind of quality we're talking about:
Yes, I know she doesn't actually have a sheath for Monument, but like I said this is all a step by step process.

-Bonecastle is almost done!
It too me long enough, I'm sorry, but a bit under four months later, Woodcastle's sequel, Bonecastle is almost done in its rough draft form. Expect an official announcement sometime next month, and get ready for some crazy minion antics punctuated by gory high-stakes combat. <3

That's all I really have for you today. I hope that this missive finds you well and that you've been reading all sorts of wonderful things. Do you like Paulo Coelho? He's one of my favorites, if only for The Alchemist.

All the best to you and your kin,

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Dragon Scythe Online's in-writing reveal

Good day to you, beloved reader-type,
I bring you this day my current project, and this time, you get to read along!
So as you may know NaNoWriMo got off to a fairly bumpy start for me. Halloween Knight is just something I don't feel ready to do yet, but I only figured that out after getting roughly 5k into it.
This new fiction is also a reboot, but it's a lot further from my old source material.
dragon_scythe (1)
Introducing Dragon Scythe Online a LitRPG that spans multiple tropes, and subverts pretty much all of them. And yes, that is Kell Inkston on the cover there - what am I doing in my own fiction, you ask? Well it's a secret for now. You have to read to find out.
In case you're not in the know about this newer subgenre, LitRPG is basically a fiction with heavy game elements, which would also place it somewhere in the postmodern fiction category. Expect lots of references to stats, character charts, and online game stuff as dressing for the overarching, actually-quite-dark story.
Instead of writing this in my dark repository as I tend to, this time I'm posting new segments of the story every day to the fiction site Expect lots and lots of fairly generic tropes, but each time with a small twist. It'll lead up to something really cool if you're willing to spare the time, especially for you sci-fi readers of mine. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think:
That said, Stonecastle is nearly halfway done, and you can expect to see that early in 2018, probably alongside a relaunch of Woodcastle (formerly Kingdom through the Swamp). After that expect to see either Xtreme Force Book 1 finally released, or Walking the Scar's completion on this blog right here.
Hope your day is wonderful and that your harvests are rich,

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

NaNoWriMo - a different novel!

Good day to you.
I understand this is a bit of a weird post considering the timing, but I have some good/bad news.
I'm not actually ready to write Halloween Knight.
I'll unpack my reasoning for you, as well as tell you what I will be writing (it's another one of my super old projects, but even my most die-hard readers wouldn't know about this one).
My reasons are as follows:
-My growing readership (one that's heavily based in the upper-teen/younger adult range,) might not be quite so privy to a novel that has to do with holidays, and other cutesy-turned-serious themes right off the bat.
Don't get me wrong, Halloween Knight was being written to be appealing from thirteen and onward, but right now I want to push hard in one direction to "earn my keep" in a closer genre. Yes, technically Halloween Knight was going to be YA Fantasy, which matches up with my other works pretty well, but I'm afraid that with as under the radar I am now, it's unlikely to gain much traction with such an underused thematic.

-It's not set in the Inkrealm universe.
At the moment I'm shooting to get a diverse ecosystem of books that deal with the likes of Overlord Chaos, The Captain, The O.E.L., and all those wonderful folks you know and love on the crazier side of things. Halloween Knight is pretty separate to all of that, as it takes place in a version of our own reality.

-I'm just not feeling it.
Yeah, sorry I was hyped to start it up, but roughly 5,000 in and I'm not really feeling it. I would agree that it is better than the original version (stopped that one at about 10,000 words) however the plot is just too muddy for me to really invest into at this time. I do want to write it and release it, but I'm afraid that I'm not really ready. Thankfully I'm an indie author so I call the ultimate shots with what I write and what my deadlines are. *Evil poverty laugh*.

That said, let's move onto better things.
Way, way back, I wrote a great deal of a novel called Journey Quest. It was probably one of the first LitRPGs ever written, lol, as it was years before the genre took off. It revolved around two individuals that may or may not be video game characters, surviving in a world where their lives, and even their own existences are often brought into question thanks to great levels of O.E.L. meddling.
The story's narrative is something that's very precious to me, and I think you'll really like it, regardless if you're a reader of the genre or not.
That said, I'm planning on doing that for my NaNoWriMo bid instead. Am I super behind by starting from page 1?
Yes, I'll be super behind, but it will give me a product that will have a market, attached to a story that I think will be not only unique as a LitRPG book, but also as a fantasy and sci-fi book. We're going to get pretty deep with this, and you can expect at least one (two or more for those really long-time readers) character cameos.
Considering LitRPG's writing style is a little more simple (if you can call postmodern fiction simple at all) then my speed for this project should be considerable. I'm really going to try to put myself to the grindstone on this one, or else I'll talk myself out of it like I am with Halloween Knight, and it'll be super embarrassing to yet again have another unfinished version of an unfinished old novel lying around.
Here's the cool news, I'm going to post chapters of it to the LitRPG fiction site Royal Road Legends. They have a huge readerbase, and I have a feeling I'll be able to pick up a good deal of new readers so long as I stay consistent with it all.
If you were really looking forward to Halloween Knight, you have my deepest apologies for the cancellation of the project, and I'll gladly send you the segment I wrote for your enjoyment. Just shoot me an email at and it shall be yours.
Expect the first segment of Journey Quest's reboot: Dragon Scythe Online, uploaded in the next few days. I'll make sure to let you know.
All the best to you,

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween Knight for nanowrimo!

Let's talk about what I've been up to.

I apologize for being so mysterious about things as I tend to be, but I simply have a good deal of work both IRL and on projects that have been taking up my time.

Also that new Super Mario came out, but we don't need to draw that into the equation.

I've been spending most of my time since Eminence's release working with Stonecastle, which is Woodcastle's (formerly Kingdom through the Swamp) sequel. The project is roughly halfway done, and you can expect it either late December or early January. It will be a bit darker than KttS, but not so much that it would turn away those charmed by the original's comfiness. Just be ready for way more necromancers, a bit more fighting, and plenty of hurt feelings.

So, newer news, I've decided to participate in this year's nanowrimo!

*cue booing/gasps*

Yes, yes of course it is during one of my other novel projects, but I feel like this will be a welcome change of pace for me to explore a story idea I've had for a good while and haven't yet had the pleasure of sinking my teeth into full-speed:

Halloween Knight!

Verily so, I'm going to (((attempt))) to write the novel's rough draft from scratch, with more characters, a cooler main character, a dash more romance, and a severely badass villain! There's a good chance this one could get done before Stonecastle, so apologies in advance to you Cooking Minion fans; you're going to have to wait a little bit.

Project calendar as it stands:
1: Halloween Knight Book One (Holiday Rebellion) slated for December 5th
2: Stonecastle for December 20th-January 10th
3: Insurgence (VS Empire's third book) February 30th
4: Walking the Scar (Pushed back again lol) sometime in April

Perhaps it's notable that I have quite a few lined up in just six months, but do be aware this is closer to my preferred workload. Now, if only you wonderful readers would all buy each of my releases, perhaps I could get even closer to my desired speed and put out a novel a roughly one a month, so tell your friends! Really my speed is heavily dependent on my outside-of-writing worklife, so the less work I have to do, the more I can write! <3

Also, to you writers out there, allow me to recommend How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Bryan Cohen. This is a wonderful, wonderful book that has revitalized and sharpened my blurb-writing skills, which are useful for both traditional writers and indies alike! It focuses on making the sale (which good writing in this form should) and is chalk full of helpful examples and in-depth explanation to craft blurbs that readers love. It's absolutely worth the small price tag, as it's an investment in your future skills.

Sorry about that aside, reader, but I've really enjoyed it and thought more should know. It seems like I've really underestimated the selling process for the longest time, because I want people to read my stuff, but I don't want to pay tons of monies to make that happen! I'm steadily learning, however, that for people to experience my writing, I must make the investment of making a product as attractive as possible, because in this cutt-throat writer world, it's the very best looking products that buy the coffee. Preferably, the best product should be the best looking one, but that isn't always the case.
Regardless, from now on expect fancier covers, more-striking descriptions, and razor-sharp tag lines. I'm committed to looking indistinguishable from traditional publishers, because the writing's worth it, the stories are worth it, I'm worth it, and you are worth it. No more of bowing to the big publishers, I'll be my own publishing house!

It's time to shoot for the stars, reader. You and me, we're going to make a world where people can write what they want, and get paid for it. People will be able to spread the wonderful stories and messages they have day by day, without the crippling weight of the 9-5 workday. It's only a matter of time, reader, you can join with me, but regardless of what you decide on, I shall one day touch the stars.

... and then die because stars are super hot.... maybe I should use a different analogy next time.
Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful day, and that you work hard to make our world a finer place for the good and the righteous; maybe the evil too, but I'm sure that part of being evil is not liking it when good and righteous folks have fun.
Much love,

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Eminence is Eminent!

So we have a few wonderful things to announce today:
Voidstar Empire's second book Eminence is now available on!
This one follows the 55th's efforts in tracking down the culprits of the Serne terrorist strike, a situation that spirals quickly into suspicion as Cole realizes he has more than small relation to this organization in his past- exciting! Expect to see acquaintances and team mates, both old and new, Boris, The Captain, and someone by the name of... Grancis? Did I say that right? Not sure. Weird name.

Next article of wonderful news is Valiance is undergoing a permanent 60% price reduction, starting today until the 12th!
That's right! Valiance's digital version is now only $0.99 for a limited time! I figure this was the right move to introduce as many people to the universe as possible. Don't forget to leave a review; it would mean a lot and be super helpful!

A quick note on the Valiance audiobook. Regrettably the deal fell through with the narrator. He's a nice enough chap, but artistic divisions usually trump character I'm afraid.
That said I apologize for the wait, and  assure you Valiance will have its audiobook in the coming months!

The current project roster:
- Castle in the Mountain - the sequel to Kingdom through the Swamp (Likely to be re-titled Castle in the Swamp soon for rebranding. Feel free to email me and let me know if you don't like this idea) is number one right now, which I'm trying to slate for December if possible. Expect some really good looking cover art, a polished manuscript, and for the very first time, character art.
- Insurgence - the third book in Voidstar Empire is set for February, though with some considerable work business there's a good chance it could be delayed further. You remember that Guilan's brother? The one hunting down Cole? Yeah, he finds Cole in this one; it's gonna get messy.
- Walking the Scar - the "1.5" between Ktts and CitM is still on third wheel. I'm about 70% done with the project, but I simply need to find the inclination to finish up. The ending will definitely be one of my slower and more poignant ones. I think you'll really enjoy it. Also, keep an eye over at for new chapters as they release!

All that said, I have a question for your all. What would you like to see along the lines of T-shirts? No joke. I've been considering swaggering up some merchandise for the Inkrealm universe recently, but I just need some good ideas.
Shoot me your thoughts at I'd really appreciate the help.
I hope you enjoy the reading and that you have a wonderful weekend.
All the best,
eyes2 - Kell

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Eminence on October 5th!

The second book in the Voidstar Empire series, Eminence, is set to be on amazon digital shelves for $2.99 on October 5th! I'm pretty proud of this one, but it might push the envelope a little much for some people's tastes. This is, of course, the greatest sin an author can commit, as people's opinions and sensibilities are far too precious to ever be touched.

Just kidding.

It's nothing groundbreaking, but I'd say there's plenty of nice morally gray segments that will keep some readers reflecting on the nature of some of the characters, particularly Cole, who's been a little difficult to write this time around.

All things considered, I'm happy with the way it's turning out, and I think you will too. This one's going to have its fair share of combat, but also a whole lot of world-building and dynamic situations as well. Ever wondered what an Ardian queen looks like? What are VR sims like nowadays? How badass are O.E.L. scribes? The secrets are all inside!
What's more, on October 5th, we will also be celebrating Valiance's permanent price drop to $0.99! More readers, more fun, more money. *cue evil noises*

On other project notes:

-The Valiance audiobook contract has been squared away and production has begun, expect a nice, smooth, listen-to-able version in a month or less.

-Walking the Scar WILL continue, just not on storyshift. Expect it to be the next completed novel, and for chapters to be uploaded to on a periodic basis.

And just between you and me: if you could have a sequel to any of my books asap, which would that be? I have a lot of open series, I understand, so I'd be interested in your opinions to better direct myself. Shoot me an email at, or just comment somewhere. I'll see it eventually.

I hope your day is wonderful, your harvests plentiful, and your campaigns successful.
All the best,

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A high-level update on 7/29

Good tidings, reader.
In case you've been wondering, I've been at work on Eminence for nearly a month now, producing a good-looking batch of 21.5k words toward the project; this means I'm neaaaarly halfway there! I apologize for being so quiet, but I've been busy as a bee budging a bagel with the project and various scribery-stuff. Thank you for understanding. I'll try to let you know any time something important is going on.
I don't want to leave you empty-handed for trekking all the way to this little corner of the internet. So I'm going to give you one of the very first chapter in rough-draft form.
But first, reflection:
This is the second book in the series and feels more difficult to write. I don't think it's any more or less complicated than the first in the series (though it is markedly more complex than my non-sci-fi books) so that can't be it, and yet I'm lagging behind. If I recall I was roughly 30k at this same time with Valiance, so I wonder what's been holding me back. For the longest time I've only written what I expressly enjoy, so perhaps writing to the grindstone/schedule like this can slowly burn a person out - that must be it: burnout.
Be warned, writers: if you've not yet felt the power of weakness, and the speed of slowness, steel your heart, for even now I feel tugged away to go do something other than writing- Like cook, or go for a run, or play video games. So much to enjoy in this wonderful life of ours!
Regardless, expect to see Eminence either 100% on time in late September, or sometime early to mid October.
I wish you all the best and genuinely hope you'll enjoy the segment below.
Much love,

Chapter Two: A Cool New Amigo and Frightened Adults
At first it was a flash, a painful light as Cole realizes he’s not dead, and was in fact just struck senseless. He was always told atmosphere suits were good at taking big drops, but he never expected they’d hold up with a drop like that. He mentally flicks through his Glass’ GUI to the medical tab: the system’s telling him his bones are crushed and that he shouldn’t be physically capable of walking, and yet…
Cole pulls himself to his feet in the deep greys of the block, his suit burnt over with a brief flame and scarred deep with debris. He stumbles for his rifle, but can’t see anything in the flowing storm of dust. He flicks on his thermal to make sense of it all, he spots someone coming forward just meters away- an Ardian.
“Hey,” Cole says. The Ardian, obviously shocked, starts up and lifts his rifle.
“Freeze, identif-…” after a second, he lowers his rifle. “Shit, sir, my apologies,” he says, amidst a chorus of chuckles over the comm line, filled with Lascardians who can stay stupid even in the midst of an aggravated fight like this one.
“For shame, Sergeant” The Captain says, over the line.
“Sorry, sir,” the male Ardian says to Cole.
Cole clicks to a private line. “No harm to it,” he says with a lax wave. “You got a sidearm?”
The sergeant flips up his pistol and Cole takes it from the handle. “Of course, sir. Sergeant Jeran, second platoon, pathfinder. I wouldn’t thought a drop at that speed would kill a life form, but I guess humans are full of surprises.”
The Lieutenant scoffs as the sergeant takes up Cole’s left. “That we are, Sergeant,” Cole says with a professional nod. “Now what’s the situation?”
Jeran hums. “You don’t know, sir?”
“Well I did sort of drop in first. Takes a little time to regain the bearings, you know.”
“Right, I get you.” Jeran looks out to the street, practically indistinguishable from the other directions due to the intensity of the wreckage. “Apparently one of the mech squads spotted out our drop and brought in some kind of artillery. Flew up and shot through the street- separated us. We’ve lost six thus far, sir. Current order is to disseminate into the city and take up buildings for cover as we wait it out.” Jeran starts pushing into a door to one of the identical towers that litter the city in neat, uniform rows- this is a residential district.
“He’s right, Lieutenant,” The Captain says in Cole’s head, closed link be damned. “They’re signatures are very faint, and they’re definitely using jammers somewhere. Myself and a few others are tracking them down to clear up the space, so for now you just need to survive with Sergeant Jeran.”
Cole passes through the dark and debris into a tenement building, the air cleaning up instantly. “Rodger. I’ll wait your call.”
The quiet of the building contracts sharply against the blows and shots of the outside. Cole swaps back to the immediate-zone comm. “Weird place,” Cole mutters as he looks over the rows and rows of produce, stacked neatly into bins across the floor.
“What?” Jeran asks as they both duck. “You’ve never seen a supermarket, sir?”
Cole scoffs, leading to a minute long silence as the two listen for any movement inside. “Well, of course I have, it’s just they’re usually way smaller,” he says after a silent while as they get to the other side of the floor, weapons at the ready.
“Do humans not have much food variety?”
“Well, no… Gah, why are we talking about this?”
Jeran, concealed in his atmosphere suit just like Cole, glances over his way cluelessly. “I don’t know, sir. Just sort of interesting to meet a human, is all.”
Cole thinks on it as they silently fold around a corner before talking again, not so much that they’re worried someone might hear them through their suits, as they might get distracted and be slow to react. “Well we have something call endless supermarkets. Basically it’s just a… well a machine that creates anything of any flavor and texture you want, and it’s all super nutritious.”
“Whoa, that’s sort of… huh,” Jeran mutters.
“What?” Cole asks as they pile up at a door into the main center section of the building.
“Just like a human to value practicality, I guess. That’s why you guys are so cool.”
Cole inhales sharply, praying that this guy isn’t going to be another Eqarne. “Eh, thanks?”
At Cole’s ready, the two open the door, only to meet a duo of armed Ardians.
“Who th-”
“Shoot!” The blue-red Ardian scream over the brown-black one.
Cole and Jeran snap to cover in a flash, dodging the red-blue’s pistol shot.
“Friendly, dammit, friendly!” Jeran shouts through his speaker.
“Yeah fucking right, traitor!” the large red-blue Ardian shouts, her pistol trembling in her group.
“What are you talking about?!”
“You have a human with you! You’re gonna fucking kill us!” She shouts, holding a committed, if wavering aim on the doorway.
“I’m Lieutenant Cole Outstar of the R.L.S.N., I don’t mean you any ha-”
“Bullshit! As if we’d fall for that!”
“I think…” the brown one clips her mandibles in consideration, “They both had AB patches.”
“They…” The red-blue Ardian seethes as she gestures further down the hall to some unknown recipient.
“Miss,” Cole says, totally unsure how to address an Ardian female in the civilian dynamic. “We’re 55th, Star Knife. We were dropped here to fight the terrorists.”
The red-blue Ardian scoffs with a beat of the wings. “But you’re human! You eat souls!”
Cole takes a deep breath, “That’s… that may be true, but I’m not after yours. I’m loyal to Eiza.”
“Yeah,” the brown-black one says, “It was on my new app. This is the galaxy’s only human, and he saved us from the Serronites.”
The red-blue one looks aside as if needing confirmation, though her pistol’s still pointed downrange. “Those rocky immigrant bastards?” She looses an awkward hum, and then refocuses her sights. “Sure, you can come out.”
The Lieutenant rounds the corner slowly, but suddenly Jeran shoves him from the other side back in cover as the red-blue takes a shot, scarcely missing Cole’s chest.
“Aidak! What the fuck?!” The brown-black one shouts over to her cover mate.
“You actually believe them? Even if they were us, we can trust them. They’re both male. No military can be run with male operators. Hey, human!” She shouts across. “How does it feel being let in as a side-effect of our empire’s weakness? Everything’s going to hell in a handbasket and it’s your fault!”
Jeran holds fast as a shocked Cole regains his bearings. He thinks of the most “Captainly” comeback to a social accusation like that. As if by reading his thoughts, The Captain feeds him a response. “Ardian, you will respect me like any black blooded female officer. I am not the cause of your problems in this advanced age, I but a result of that advancement. New times bring new problems, and new blessings, and I am your blessing, Ardian. Humans are unkillable in a fight. We dodge bullets to humor our physically-inferior comrades.”
The red-blue rams her elbow against her cover element. “You fucking think you could take me?”
Without even a tug from The Captain, Cole tosses his weapon out in the middle, and the red-blue crashes hers down as well. “To assume otherwise would be an insult to my race,” Cole says with a certain calculation. They meet in the middle, and instantly throw punches. Obviously a biological human would be crushed instantly by an exoskeletal creature of a comparable weight class, but Cole has his accelerator kit… and something else- he’s not sure what. He spryly dodges the first punch, and throws his fist forward like and order, undeniable and backed with the authority of the queen. The red-blue takes the hit stupidly, and spins out into the wall.
Smacking an Ardian feels weird, Cole muses, like a cheap plastic container filled with meat- the blood looks cool, though.
As both Jeran and the brown black aim down the altercation, Cole gently kicks into his downed opponent’s shin. “And let that be a lesson to you.”
“D-…bastard,” she says, groveling to her feet as Cole regains his weapon, and not a second too soon.
A dense crash crackles through the hall to the left, the very same the two Ardians were guarding. Both spring into action as Cole and Jeran move up to check the corner, and what they find does not please them: a mech, one of the battle suits from earlier, but with “23” mark. Its profile is wide to accommodate its several weapons systems, and its movement kit is obviously of a high grade, producing next to no sounds from its skeletal movement. Aside from the large black skull painted over the hull, one thing catches Cole’s eye that really worries him, the faded text line “U.P.M.F.” is under the front plating rim.
Huddled up to the side is a group of about twenty civilians. Most are children, identifiable as they’re just a notch shorter than Cole and the females all have their abdomens still fully intact. Their cover is really just a set of civilian counters, quite capable of protecting against small arms fire, but the suit has a Federation low-velocity grape-shot rifle, a weapon infamous for its ability to ricochet and fill an entire room with lead in a single, lazily-aimed shot.
The second remaining as the suit takes aim for the shot that’ll paint the hall fifty meters down with Ardian blood, Cole snaps off Jeran’s grenade, tosses it and fires directly into it, detonating it over the crowd. Just as the suit squeezes the trigger, it falls flat along with Jeran and Cole, who lost their systems. The two soldiers tear off their helmets as the flood of children run from the downed mech. The second they’re clear, the two covering Ardians open fire on the mech, shots clanging in the air.
“It won’t work, the armor’s too-” Cole stops himself, as the screams have turned into the monotonous, droning buzz of Ardian wings - his translator’s screwed with the rest of his suit, but only for a moment as his O.E.L.-make restarter begins whirring into motion. He grabs a grenade from Jeran, a frag, and dashes for the mech, which is already flinching back to life. As the careless gunfire from the red-blue Ardian zings past his ear Cole slides to the suit’s backside, thrusts his hand into the small latch handle, and taps in his own federation I.D. number. As expected, whoever designed the mech’s illegal firmware didn’t remove the code for officers to have preferred entry over the usual pilot.
The hatch begins the opening process, the back plate sliding up and around as the mech takes to its feet and the pilot re-aims the weapon. The moment he can, Cole tosses in the unpinned grenade, closes the hatch, and swings his body round, smashing his boot into the giant weapon’s safety. The mech clicks against the trigger, no bang, and then a bang from inside the suit. The combat suit stands eerily still, the pilot quite dead and the auto-pilot function also destroyed in the blast.
Cole leaps down from the mech the moment his accelerator kit comes back online, helping him stick the landing flawlessly in front of an intimidated crowd of frightened children. Don’t screw this one, man. As per the badass code, he walks forward with a lax pace as the fire inside the mech burns into the fuel supply, causing a sick explosion.
“I…” The red-blue Ardian botches a salute, “I’m sorry we doubted you, sir.”
The brown-black one shoves the apologetic one. “Who’s this we? Also no saluting indoors.”
“Nothing to it,” Cole says coolly amidst the cheer of the children. He puts on his helmet, the pressurization system hissing as it at once seals his system and makes him look even cooler. “All in a day’s work for the fifty fifth. Now find new cover. This place is compromised.” Cole turns away to the downed mech, now a cindering pile of Federation polycarbonate and complex metallics.
“Kon’s mandibles…” Jeran mutters in awe. “You’re inspiring to men everywhere, sir. You’re living proof that we can be just as strong as fema-”
Cole chuckles over Jeran’s words. “Keep your head in the battle, Sergeant. We’re almost through this.” He taps into the ops comm. “23 neutralized.”
“Copy, Lieutenant,” the surprisingly cheery voice of the opscomm coordinator says. “Four more unknown tags remaining in the area. Still really hard to make out, sir.”
Cole clears his throat as he switches to a private with the opscomm, “There’s… there’s the possibility I know the tag sequence.” There’s a silence as Cole surveys the street.
Opscomm clicks her mandibles audibly. “Wh-… and how’s that, sir?”
“Try…” Cole starts just as The Captain’s voice enters his head again.
“I’d advise against that, Lieutenant,” The Captain says.
Cole shakes his head. “Try the 22573 series,” he says, referring to a sequence of radio-proxies used to protect comm lines during fights. Usually commtags are open to anyone who wants to join in, but private conversations require series codes, each number of which requiring roughly a minute to peel through with modern equipment before figuring if it contains the signal or not. 22573 just happens to be the Federation’s most common tag - he knows it from experience. He guesses that if the firmware maker was too lazy to switch the door access codes, he must have also been too lazy to change the more-complicated proxy series.
There’s another pause, and suddenly four commtags ping blatantly onto the Glass systems of Cole and every single soldier in the company in Serne. Everything from their statuses to their positions are posted up. “H-How did you…”
“Later,” Cole snaps as he clicks over to a new line, at once adding all the 22573. “This is Cole Outstar of the L… uh, the L.R.S.N., we have your tags.”
Four voices, those of the four remaining pilots in the assault sigh, cuss, and gasp in disbelief. Picking out someone’s tags in the middle of a fight is incredibly rare, as the process for pinging it directly will, in the process, make one’s system a giant semi-transparent target for the enemy. Of course, Cole had to give them his tag in order to open the line, but he knows it’s worth it.
“Wh…” A gruff voice stops in the middle of his words. “We surrender.”
“Lyka, no! Black Skull doesn’t su-” Another shouts.
“Shut up,” a third says. “You’re too fucking green to know better, but if he wanted this guy could give away our positions right now if he wanted.”
“We surrender,” the first voice concedes again.
Cole hears a crash from the roof of the building next to them. He looks up to see a suit, having tossed aside its rifle. One of them had their building scoped in.
In the upcoming set of moments, Cole follows procedure, feeds the info to his superior, The Captain (who already knew, of course), and from there, complete the detainment of the terrorists. While everyone’s glad the situation was disarmed, casualties were low, and that loss of life was prevented, there’s a dark stench over the company on the way back to Arda —Nobody just knows an enemy’s Glass series five digits in; that’s information that would have to be told, not guessed or parsed through with scanners.
Through it all, Cole doesn’t bother thinking on it. What’s far more worrying is how he fell that distance and yet is in such good condition— No discomfort at all, as if he mysteriously regenerated during the fight.